Monday 19 August 2019

Poll: Ireland will vote 'Yes' - if we can get a deal on bank debt

Vote is conditional, say 21% and 61% say bailout deal must be renegotiated

EUROPE: Angela Merkel with Taoiseach Enda Kenny

JODY CORCORAN

MORE than a third of voters have adopted a 'wait and see' approach to the fiscal compact referendum, but almost a quarter have indicated that their vote is conditional and that they want Ireland's bailout term renegotiated before they say yes, according to a Sunday Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne opinion poll.



While the poll has found deep misgivings about the motivation behind the fiscal compact, 37 per cent said they would vote in favour, 26 per cent said they would vote against but 36 per cent said either that they don't know or, more intriguingly, that their support is conditional.

A breakdown of those who have adopted a 'wait and see' approach shows that, unprompted, 21 per said their support "depends" and 15 per cent said they "don't know".

The finding that nearly a quarter of all voters -- a majority of them women -- have indicated that their support is "dependent" chimes with the expressed view of the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

She has come in for some criticism from Cabinet colleagues after she linked the successful passage of the referendum to a restructuring of the repayment schedule on bank debt. In another significant finding, which may be linked to the conditional position being adopted by voters, the poll has also found a comfortable majority of 61 per cent believe the economy will only recover if a deal is agreed to restructure bank debt.

But there is little confidence that the Government will renegotiate a better deal. Only 16 per cent of those questioned said they were "confident" and just 12 per cent were "strongly confident".

This high level of disillusionment, even cynicism, is evident throughout the poll, which was conducted among a representative sample of 1,027 people in face-to-face interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday last.

Voters' views were sought across a range of issues such as the economy and budgetary policy; the banking crisis and bailout terms; the fiscal compact and other issues, such as the closure of the embassy to the Vatican.

The despondency was particularly evident, however, in relation to the effect of the economic crisis on households and lifestyles, specifically on issues such as unemployment, emigration and worries about the standard of living.

For example, two-in-three are worried about their standard of living dropping this year; 57 per cent are concerned about paying household bills; one-third have experienced emigration and a further 35 per cent expect to; nearly half believe they will be worse off this time next year.

While there is a grim acceptance that things will get worse before they get better, a majority, nonetheless, also felt that tough budgets were "necessary" for the next three years.

In relation to the Coalition, four-in-10 feel that Fine Gael is having greater success, with just seven per cent of the view that Labour is performing well in Government.

It is clear from the poll that Labour is bearing the brunt of voters' dissatisfaction: 35 per cent believe Fine Gael should have gone into Government alone and 33 per cent felt Labour should have gone into Opposition.

The only Labour politician to buck the trend is the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. Asked to rate the performance of ministers, Ms Burton (12 per cent) is third, behind Taoiseach Enda Kenny (15 per cent) and the Finance Minister Michael Noonan (15 per cent).

In a departure from stated government policy, Ms Burton said last week that the European Union should cut the cost of Ireland's banking bailout to help pass the fiscal-compact referendum here.

Notwithstanding the barely concealed annoyance of her Cabinet colleagues, it is clear from the poll that the view as espoused by the Social Protection Minister is in tandem with the views of voters.

Two-thirds (65 per cent) feel Ireland will need to apply for another bailout next year but access to further bailout funding is dependent on a Yes vote in the referendum.

However, there is a strong resistance to sacrificing our 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate, which 75 per cent said should remain untouched.

Regardless of voting intentions, there is a deep sense of unease about the impact of the fiscal compact on small countries such as Ireland, which are perceived to be less influential.

For example, 63 per cent believe the fiscal compact is designed to protect the interests of larger countries in Europe. Forty-one per cent are "strongly" of that view.

Sunday Independent

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